Kids Around the Bay

By Mark MacNamara

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream CoatThis revival version plays at the Hillbarn Theatre in Foster City, through Dec. 23. Novel staging, on a children’s playground, complete with bars, swings, and tic tac toe. Cast includes 26 adults, 18 children, ages 6 to 15. Kids remain on stage throughout.

Everybody is local save one equity guest, Noel Anthony, in the title role. Kids come from the theater’s conservatory (ages 4 to 18), which includes after school drama programs in both public and private schools in the area — among them, the Nueva School and Crystal Springs Uplands.

The show is one hour and 40 minutes. “It’s this classical bible story told in a fun and colorful way,” Associate Artistic Director, Tyler Bennet, told us. “Everybody loves it, from grand kids to grandparents.”

The Hillbarn Theater, Thursdays through Sundays, through December 23. December 16 is soldout; December 23, very limited.

Mark MacNamara (macnamband.com) is a journalist in San Francisco who has written for such publications as Salon.com, Vanity Fair, and The Stanford Social Innovation Review. He also wrote a recent piece for Nautilus, a science magazine, about Edward Elgar’s penchant for ciphers and riddles.

Jon's School of Music

Jon's School of MusicFrom time to time we feature music programs for very young children. One school to consider is Jon’s School of Music (www.jsom.com), which you can find more about through the Berkeley Parent’s Network. Classes are held in Berkeley and in San Francisco. Berkeley has 97 students; San Francsico, 20. Kids as young as 10 months have been enrolled, but most start at one. Older classes for ages 5-7 are available.

Jon Merker is the director/teacher. He was a UC Berkeley music major. Has been in the business for 17 years, first with a franchise called Music Time, which stopped in 2003. Merker has been on his own for the last 9 years. “I’m fun and silly, and entertaining,” he told us. “But at the same time I take music very seriously. My goal is always to open up music worlds and to encourage a child’s music brain. I also teach absolute pitch.”

Children have the opportunity to write music as well as work with all kinds of high quality instruments, including keyboards to understand the basics of scales. Eight kids to a class. The one requirement is that parents be willing to go along with an Oral Exploration Policy, which is to discourage putting fingers in the mouth and otherwise spreading germs and conceivably damaging instruments.

Class prices range from $17 for little kids to $20 for older. Call Jon for more information: (415) 971 – 5435. Or email: jon@jsom.com. San Francisco Location: 4150 Balboa at 43rd; Berkeley Location: 1790 Shattuck Ave. (between Delaware and Francisco).

Mark MacNamara (macnamband.com) is a journalist in San Francisco who has written for such publications as Salon.com, Vanity Fair, and The Stanford Social Innovation Review. He also wrote a recent piece for Nautilus, a science magazine, about Edward Elgar’s penchant for ciphers and riddles.

The Hard Nut

The Hard NutIt was Charles Burns who inspired Mark Morris’ bizarre adaptation of The Nutcracker. Burns, one of the masters of elipitcally told graphic stories, said once in an interview, “My interst is really in the idea that the characters are manifesting something physically that’s inside of them.” In his famous work, Black Hole, one of the characters sheds her skin “like a snake.”

Transformation is always one of his themes. Morris took Burns’ comic feel, and noir sensibility, and staged The Nutcracker in 1960s America, and then added his own subtle and not so subtle references to materialism, homosexualty, and transformation. He is faithful to the original story, written by E.T.A. Hoffman, who was, after all, an author of fantasy and horror himself. The only thing missing is the sugar plum fairy.

At Cal Performances, the Mark Morris Dance Group with members of the Berkeley Sympony Orchestra, conducted by George Cleve, along with the Piedmont East Bay Children’s Choir, directed by Robert Geary. Through Dec. 23 at Zellerbach Hall. Box office: (510) 642-9988.

Mark MacNamara (macnamband.com) is a journalist in San Francisco who has written for such publications as Salon.com, Vanity Fair, and The Stanford Social Innovation Review. He also wrote a recent piece for Nautilus, a science magazine, about Edward Elgar’s penchant for ciphers and riddles.

Notes to a Young Musician, Continued

Recently, I wrote a piece about careers in music titled Portraits For a Young Musician. It’s about innovative ways to make a career in music, outside the performance hall and beyond the classroom.

Among those I interviewed was Catherine Radbill, Director of the Undergraduate Music Business program at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development. She’s also the author of a new textbook, directed largely at freshmen, titled Introduction to the Music Industry: An Entrepreneurial Approach.

In our conversation we talked about the growth of music business schools in this country and the increasing presence of music schools in Asia. For example, NYU has a campus in Abu Dhabi but now also in Shanghai.

We also talked about some of the ways she instills a sense of entrepreneurial initiative among her students. Seniors are given research projects in which they must create a business venture of some sort, which includes a personal mission statement and a description of a business model.

One student, a composer, envisioned setting up a small company that would serve politicians, by creating original music that would in some way enhance their political identity. “Music as brand is how I think of it,” Radbill explained. “In effect, a theme song would run under spots and at the end of tags used on radio.”

How practical such a proposal might be isn’t clear, but Radbill says that she encourages students to think of ever-new applications.

She had another student whose concept involved working in Southeast Asia to find places where indigenous music is being lost. The idea was to set up a venture to find musicians from a certain village to make a record and then to get older and younger musicians in the village working together to make new recordings. The hope would be for the village to run the business and make money, as well as preserve their musical heritage.

“This is part of the growing field of social entrepreneurship where the goal is to create an organization that can fund itself and at the same time encourage local participation. The student entered the idea in a competition and it came in third, but the problem was funding. That’s the next obstacle. It’s often easy to come up with a creative idea involving music, but then how do you make it practical?”

Radbill gave an example: “I know a dean, a graduate of MIT, who got a jillion dollars from a foundation to do genome mapping of rhythms around the world. In effect, a cultural genome. So he travels to different places making notes of rhythms and where they came from. Can you imagine a more interesting job?”

Mark MacNamara (macnamband.com) is a journalist in San Francisco who has written for such publications as Salon.com, Vanity Fair, and The Stanford Social Innovation Review. He also wrote a recent piece for Nautilus, a science magazine, about Edward Elgar’s penchant for ciphers and riddles.

Mark MacNamara (macnamband.com) is a journalist in San Francisco who has written for such publications as Salon.com, Vanity Fair, and The Stanford Social Innovation Review. He also wrote a recent piece for Nautilus, a science magazine, about Edward Elgar’s penchant for ciphers and riddles.